Canadian agriculture's Prescription Drug List set to expand


As part of the Government of Canada’s move to promote the judicious use of antimicrobials, Health Canada is moving all medically-important antimicrobials (MIA) used in food production to the Prescription Drug List, effective December 1, 2018.

According to Health Canada, “supervision is a vital part of antimicrobial oversight. Veterinarians have the training to assess and diagnose animal disease. They can decide if antimicrobial drugs are needed and prescribe the right treatment.”

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MIAs are those which fall under Category I, II or III of Health Canada’s categorization of antimicrobials based on their importance to human medicine. Category IV refers to those of low importance to human medicine, and includes flavophospholipols and ionophores.

All MIAs approved by Health Canada since 2004 must be sold by prescription. The 2018 shift is for those developed and approved before that date, including:

Penicillin G
Or their salts or derivatives


Unlike in human health, where prescriptions are offered on a case-by-case basis (with a few exceptions), the prescription-only system for animal health won’t necessarily require a veterinarian to visit the farm every time an animal is suspected of needing treatment. Within the limits of a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR), prescriptions will be allowed to be provided for specific conditions over a finite period of time, with regular veterinary re-evaluations.

The move is part of the overall effort to promote the judicious use of antimicrobials, in both human and animal health. In addition to the added supervision, the government is working with stakeholders towards removing growth promotion claims from MIA drug labels and including responsible use statements on the labels of all in-feed and in-water MIAs.

As all of these changes require adjustments to the label, they will be rolled out at the same time, with the addition of ‘Pr’ to indicate MIAs as prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are only available for purchase from veterinarians and pharmacists.

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